Victim's Advocates Frustrated by Government Failure

By Elspeth Mizner
Erie News Now
February 01, 2021

[with video]

Pennsylvania's Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar will resign this week after a crucial crime victim bill, slipped through the cracks on her watch.

This news today is another setback for survivors of sexual abuse.

Paul Lukach, the Executive Director of the Crime Victim Center was stunned when he heard that abuse victims would have to wait years for their days in court.

"I couldn't believe it. This didn't just happen, we thought this was gonna come through. We had enough people on board to make it happen. People were understanding and actually hearing the victims", said Lukach.

Lukach appreciates the apology and understands that mistakes happen but that doesn't fix the problem. "They said it was a human error but its a human error that going to effect a lot of lives negatively", continued Lukach.

He said he hasn't heard from any clients yet, but he believes they are still in shock. "People are still digesting what happened, people are still trying to figure out what does that look like?"

The Erie Catholic Diocese released the following statement:

"The Diocese of Erie has publicly taken a neutral position on this legislation since it is our understanding that it would impact all survivor-victims. We know this delay has caused more pain for many people. It is our hope that when this matter comes before legislators again, representatives will remain mindful of survivor-victims of both public and private institutions."

Even on a dark day in the fight, Lukach reminds the victims to be hopeful.
"The fight's not over, we might have to push this down the road by two years but the fights not over. We are going to make sure people have their day in court if they so choose. The victims voices will be heard "

Attorney General Josh Shapiro also released a statement:

"The Department of State’s failure to carry out its responsibilities in the constitutional amendment process is shameful, and all options must be on the table to fix this immediately. Too many institutions have failed survivors of sexual abuse for far too long, and I am determined for that disgraceful streak to end and to make sure justice is no longer denied. My office has made clear that the amendment process was an unnecessary hurdle from the beginning. I urge the general assembly and governor to do what many states have already done and let Pennsylvania survivors have their day in court as soon as possible by passing this final reform into law."



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